nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is HIV a huge problem, or a REALLY Huge problem?

Data indicate HIV-related deaths may have dropped worldwide.

The Los Angeles Times (7/30, Maugh) reports that the United Nations has released its "biennial UNAIDS report...just days before the Sunday start of the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City." And, while the "numbers are little changed from a report issued in November in which the agency drastically revised estimates of HIV prevalence," the new data indicate that HIV-related deaths worldwide dropped in 2007.

According to the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, "Fewer people are dying of AIDS, more patients are on HIV medication, and the global AIDS epidemic is stable after peaking in the late 1990s," the AP (7/30, Cheng) adds. Furthermore, there are approximately 33 million cases of AIDS worldwide, which is somewhat lower than the agency's "previous estimate of 40 million." That figure "was revised last year because of changes to how it counts cases."

Doc D: Public health experts have been saying for years that the UN has been over-counting due to unreliable methods that vary from country to country, and have chosen to always take the highest estimate available. It finally got so un-credible that they had to publish a “drastically revised” estimate, along with a lot of excuses for why they chose politics over good data. AIDS is a major global problem…it doesn’t need falsification to convince us. But, there are only so many resources available to address global disease and poverty, and we need the truth to decide where to put them.

BUT:

Health Officials: CDC Understated Number of New HIV Infections in U.S.

ATLANTA — The number of Americans infected by the AIDS virus each year is much higher than the government has been estimating, U.S. health officials reported Sunday, acknowledging that their numbers have understated the level of the epidemic.

The country had roughly 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006 — a dramatic increase from the 40,000 annual estimate used for the last dozen years. The new figure is due to a better blood test and new statistical methods, …. it likely will refocus U.S. attention from the effect of AIDS overseas to what the disease is doing to this country, said public health researchers and officials.

"This is the biggest news for public health and HIV/AIDS that we've had in a while," said Julie Scofield, executive director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.

HOWEVER, the CDC’s actual statement said this, too: “It should be noted that the new incidence estimate does not represent an actual increase in the numbers of HIV infections. Rather, a separate CDC historical trend analysis published as part of this study suggests that the annual number of new infections was never as low as 40,000 and that it has been roughly stable since the late 1990s (with estimates ranging between 55,000 and 58,500 during the three most recent time periods analyzed).”

AND, the new numbers use “innovative testing technology to determine, at the population level, which positive HIV test results indicate new HIV infections (those that occurred within approximately the past 5 months). Before the widespread availability of this technology, HIV diagnosis data provided the best indication of recent trends in key populations. However, diagnosis data indicate when HIV infection is diagnosed, not when a person becomes infected (infection can occur many years before a diagnosis).”

Doc D: So, to decipher all this talk, there’s a new test that allowed them to now measure “infection” when they used to measure “disease” (two different things). When you define what you’re measuring differently, the numbers change…what a surprise. And, nothing has changed…the number of people showing up with disease symptoms is the same…we just can now know much earlier those people who will become ill. But, in the first report, it sounded like things were worse, didn’t it? If you’re interested, see http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/factsheets/pdf/incidence.pdf

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